Today got off to a little earlier start than usual, since we were going to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park, which, lucky for us, is just right down the road from here.
‘Goodbye’ because they’re leaving us here at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails RV Resort, and ‘temporary’ because they’re just going about 10 miles away to the Resorts of Distinction – Camp Verde RV Park. Their two weeks are up here so they’re moving down there. We’re not yet ROD members so we’re just going to stay here.
Then on our way out of the park we stopped by the office to re-up here for 6 more days, leaving on the 20th.
It only took us about 15 minutes to get to the Wildlife Park and get parked.
After getting our tickets, and finding out we had a little while before our Safari Ride, we walked over to the Critter Feature to check out the Pacu lizard, baby python, and several other animals they had out for the guests to handle
A few minutes later we boarded our bus and headed out onto the Serengeti Plains, or at least what passes for them in Arizona.
One of the first animals we saw was this male African Lion sunning himself on top of his enclosure. Our guide Courtney said he’s a happy lion because he has his own little harem of 4 females. But I think the guys on the bus figured he was hiding out on the roof to get some peace and quiet.
Our next stop was a tour favorite . . . giraffe feeding, using the carrot sticks we were given as we boarded the bus.
As you can see, it gets very up close and personal.
We were also told to NOT feed the carrot sticks to any of the many zebras around. Courtney said the zebras cannot tell the difference between a carrot stick and a finger.
And if they get a finger, they will not give it back.
This is Courtney with Tika, a white tiger. She says that Tika has bonded with her and will come when she calls, and allows herself to be petted and groomed thru the fence. But she pretty much ignores anyone else.
We also saw a number of different species of antelope.
And a Sable Antelope.
And also some African Watusi cattle, kind of like Texas longhorns.
We also saw this nest of unfertilized ostrich eggs, which equal about two dozen chicken eggs. That would be a hell of an omelet.
Our guide Courtney went to get an egg for us to pass around and look at. About that time, Kristen, the guide for another tour bus also came over and got an egg for her group.
But she also took our ostrich with her. She just walked up behind and started pushing her toward the other bus. That was just rude.
After our Safari tour ended, and we had a really good lunch of grilled chicken sandwiches with green chilies and cheese, we headed over to what was probably the highlight of the day, the Tiger Splash pool.
There were seven people inside the pool area playing with the two tigers. And they emphasized they were ‘playing’ with the tigers, and that the tigers were not trained. But that they love to play.
They also said the tigers get to decide if they want to do Tiger Splash or not. They have 9 tigers they rotate thru for the show. They open the cage door, say “Tiger Splash”, and if the big cat wants to participate, out he comes. And they usually do.
The guys, and one girl, spend some time hugging and roughhousing with the cats before they start the show.
They use sticks or ropes with bags of balloons on them to lure the tigers to run around and chase them. And as soon as the tigers catch the balloons, they seemed to take great pleasure in popping them with their claws and teeth.
And somehow they have learned not to ‘pop’ the people they catch. And also not to lay on the people they catch with their full 500 pound weight.
I think this one is saying, “MINE!”
This tiger, ‘Liberty’ looks like he’s tasting this guy.
What was really amazing is how high the tigers can jump. We began to appreciate the 20 ft high fence between us and them.
The cats also spent a lot of time swimming around the pool, jumping in and out.
In fact when the show was over, ‘Akasha’ the other tiger, refused to come out. So after spending some time trying to coax her out, they just left her there, saying she’ll come out when she’s ready.
After the Tiger Splash we spent some time walking around some of the other enclosures. When I came around the corner and saw this, at first I didn’t know what it was.
Then I realized it was a Grizzly Bear spread out on a picnic table, just catching some rays.
This beautiful female while tiger is in the same enclosure with a female African lion.
Here they are together, nuzzling and licking one of the workers.
Here’s a African black leopard who is paired with a Bengal tiger. Apparently the big cats get along better with other species of cats than their own.
These are Serval cats, that look like a small ocelot.
Our next treat was due to the fact that today, Wednesday, is Predator Feeding Day, along with Sunday and Friday. So we got to see them throwing big chunks of beef, whole turkeys and chicken parts to the animals.
What was really amazed me was how many of the large animals were being feed from INSIDE the enclosures, like these black bears.
Walking back to the entrance we stopped off at probably Jan’s favorite, the prairie dogs. They had a vending machine where you could buy food, and these guys were very well fed. They would come waddling over to you as soon as you came up to the fence.
This guy was so fat and lazy, he wouldn’t even come all the way out of his burrow. He just waited for me to throw it to him.
Our last stop was to see “Boom Boom”, the white rhino, the ‘white’ part being relative I guess, compared to the black rhinos.
Rhinos are supposed to be pretty mean and ill-tempered, so I was surprised to see someone get right in the enclosure with him.
We certainly enjoyed our day at Out of Africa, and heartedly recommend it to anyone in the area. We’ve been to zoos and wildlife parks all over the country and have never seen one where the keepers so closely interact with the animals, especially the big, dangerous ones.
My only disappointment was the fact that I couldn’t get my Panasonic Lumix camera to go into Manual Focus, so my photos show a lot more chainlink fence than I would have liked, since the Auto Focus sometimes wanted to focus on the fence rather than what was behind it.
Leaving the park about 4:30 we drove over to Nick and Terry’s new site and spent some time talking over our travel plans for the next few months, before heading out for supper, once again at La Fonda, which was really convenient since it’s right outside their new park.
Getting back to the rig about 7:30 we were down for the night, after a long, but fun day.
See you tomorrow.
Thought for the Day:
“Those who know, don’t talk; those who don’t know, talk.”